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23 August, 2021 - 23:01 By Tony Quested

Parkinson’s UK takes investment in NRG Therapeutics to £2.5m

Cambridge neuroscience business NRG Therapeutics, which is progressing plans for a Series A round of up to £20 million, has won further equity investment of £490k from Parkinson’s UK to support the development of disease-modifying drugs for the treatment of Parkinson’s.

This is the third investment Parkinson’s UK has made into NRG Therapeutics, bringing the total amount to £2.5 million. 

The funding comes via the charity’s drug development arm, the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech – a programme which is plugging the funding gap to fast-track the projects with the greatest scientific potential to transform the lives of people with the disorder. 

This new funding will be used to progress the company’s lead drug candidates toward preclinical development candidate nomination.

NRG is applying breakthrough science in the field of mitochondrial biology to develop first-in-class treatments for Parkinson’s. Its approach is based on inhibiting the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) in brain cells which has been shown to be neuroprotective in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

NRG Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller said: “Discovering our lead drug candidate would not have been possible without Parkinson’s UK support. 

“We are delighted to receive further investment that will enable us to advance our unique drug candidates. We are passionate about finding new treatments that offer hope and could change the lives of those with Parkinson’s and are encouraged by our preclinical data.”

Backed by Parkinson’s UK, NRG has discovered the first orally bioavailable and CNS penetrant mPTP inhibitors. Classical ‘first-generation’ inhibitors of the mPTP, such as cyclosporin A, inhibit cyclophilin D (CypD) – a protein that is believed to regulate the pore. However, all historical attempts to develop CypD inhibitors that can cross the blood-brain barrier have been unsuccessful.

The company has identified multiple series of novel mPTP inhibitors that were discovered via phenotypic screening in isolated mitochondria. Two of these chemical series, shown to act independently of CypD, have now been progressed into lead optimisation. Both series have the potential to be developed for motor neurone disease as well as Parkinson’s.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of Research at Parkinson's UK, said: “We’re delighted to further support NRG Therapeutics’ programme to find disease-modifying therapies for Parkinson’s.

“We have made significant progress with the company over the past two years and share a long-standing commitment to finding a treatment for Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world and currently there is no cure. All current Parkinson’s therapies only help to manage symptoms and there is an important need for new and better treatments that can slow down the devastating progression of the condition. 

“By partnering with institutions and pharmaceutical companies worldwide that have the R & D tools and expertise to progress projects, the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech enables the most promising discoveries to be developed into new drug treatments to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”

NRG will seek to secure a Series A funding to advance its assets into the clinic with the aim of completing IND-enabling studies for its lead asset by the end of 2023.

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